And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
The Hungry and Thirsty
When the King, Jesus Christ, returns someday, He will say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23) and will say that when you did things for the least of these, His brothers and sisters, it was just like you did them for Him. But who are these least of my brothers and sisters Jesus is talking about? There are actually six groups Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 25. Two of these are those who are hungry and thirsty. It could be literal hunger and thirst He is talking about (Matthew 25:35); but it could also mean that they have a hunger for God’s Word and a thirst for His righteousness, which Jesus spoke about in the Beatitudes where He says those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will someday be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).
The Strangers and the Naked
Two other groups that Jesus includes in the “least of these” are those who are strangers and those who are naked or in need of clothing. These two appear to be the poor, as they are strangers to their neighbors and in need of something to wear (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus mentions the strangers as being made welcome and the naked (or under-dressed) being clothed. When we make strangers feel welcome and help those who have little in resources, we are doing it for Jesus. The same goes for those who are hungry and thirsty. When we satisfy or take care of the least of those in the world, we are essentially doing it to Jesus.
The Sick and Imprisoned
Our church elder said something very insightful. Our church supports a prison ministry, but we also visit and write to prisoners on our own. Our elder said that those in nursing homes and hospitals are often prisoners too–prisoners of their age or disability. Those in our nearby nursing home can’t come to church, so we take church to them. Those in prison can’t come to our church, so our church goes to them. These are also two of the least of these that Jesus spoke about. When we visit the sick, elderly, and prisoners, Jesus sees it as doing it to Him. Besides, James wrote that pure religion includes visiting the orphans and widows (James 1:27). How many in our local nursing homes do you think are orphans and widows? Almost every one of them!
A Closing Prayer
Precious Lord God, my Father, please give me a tender heart for those in this world who are, to the world anyway, the least of those. Please show me where I can be Your hands and feet, reach out to those who are in desperate need of Your mercy and grace, and fill needs where I am able to. In Jesus’ strong name I pray.
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